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Taiwan wants more US tanks and jets to defend against China (WE)

31 March 2019


Washington Examiner title: Taiwan wants more US tanks and jets to defend against China

“Taiwan wants new tanks and fighter jets from the United States to deter China from attempting to seize the island, President Tsai Ing-wen told an American audience on Wednesday.

“Taiwan continues to face monumental challenges from across the Taiwan strait,” Tsai said during a live video conference hosted by the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. “China’s actions have underscored the need for Taiwan to increase our self-defense and deterrence capabilities.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping has increased pressure on Taipei, stressing the inevitability of an ultimate “unification” under Communist rule and denouncing Tsai as a “separatist.” Taiwan has cultivated a close relationship with the United States, which doesn’t recognize the island as an independent nation due to historic accords with Beijing, and that partnership has been key to a delicate balance of diplomatic power for 40 years.

“China has used every opportunity to alter the status quo,” Tsai said. “They have continued to undermine our democratic institutions, heightened military tensions, and degrade our international space.”

With that in mind, Taiwan has increased defense spending for the third year in a row. “We are pleased to have submitted a new request for M1 tanks and F16B fighter jets, which would greatly enhance our land and air capabilities, strengthen military morale, and show to the world the U.S. commitment to Taiwan’s defense,” Tsai added. “We’re also investing heavily in training as well, modernizing our defense strategies to prioritize the use of asymmetrical capabilities so that they more closely correspond with the realities of the threat we face.”

Both sides have sought to gain diplomatic advantages over the decades without provoking a crisis that might backfire. Tsai, for instance, aired that warning during a stopover in Hawaii on her way back from visiting a trio of Pacific Island countries that recognize Taiwan’s independence.

That kind of coordination often draws rebukes from Beijing, which insists on a “one country, two systems” relationship with Taiwan analogous to the agreements that govern Hong Kong. But Tsai regards the former British colony as a cautionary tale, given a series of Chinese maneuvers that have provoked U.S. officials to accuse Xi’s team of undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy.

“’One country, two systems,’ will become just ‘one country,’ which is the example of Hong Kong and is exactly what Hong Kong is going through right now,” she said. “The ‘two systems’ do not seem to be respected that much. And so, I think the experience of Hong Kong teaches Taiwanese people a lot.”

Taiwan is also revamping their military strategies “to prioritize the use of asymmetrical capabilities” that could offset China’s military edge. “Altogether, I hope that these actions ensure that the people of Taiwan remain able to choose our own future, free of coercion,” Tsai said.”



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